Members of Cashel Ladybirds and St Teresa’s Ladybirds, Clonmel, were among 300 girls to celebrate Ladybirds’ 30th birthday at Fota Wildlife Park on Saturday, June 15.
Ladybirds are the youngest members of Irish Girl Guides aged five to seven.
Ladybirds travelled from all over Tipperary, Cork, Kerry and Waterford to take part in the birthday bash. A further 300 Ladybirds from other counties travelled to Dublin Zoo for a simultaneous celebration.
Ladybirds, who meet each week in their local community to take part in activities, games, songs and crafts, loved the opportunity to meet up with Ladybirds from other counties to celebrate their milestone birthday.
“All the girls had a fabulous day with music, dancing and a big cake at each event,” said Monica McDonnell, Chair of Irish Girl Guides (IGG) Ladybird Branch.
“There was a brilliant atmosphere and everyone had a great time.”
While Guides (the branch of IGG for 10-14 year old's) started in Ireland in 1911, Brownies (the branch for 7-10 year old's) started in 1914 and Senior Branch (the branch for 14-30 year old's) in 1919, the Ladybird branch only started 30 years ago when it was decided to introduce guiding to girls of a younger age.
A pilot Ladybird unit in Ballybrack, Dublin, was such a success that in 1989 Ladybirds was officially launched by then Minister for Education Mary O’Rourke. Within a year there were 33 Ladybird units operating throughout the country. Today there are more than 2,000 Ladybirds in the 26 counties.
“The Ladybird programme encourages girls to care and share, to think of others and to contribute to their local communities,” said Monica, who is Leader of Cúchulainn Ladybirds in Drogheda.
“Each girl is encouraged to try her best and learn new skills and is rewarded for doing the best she can.
“The girls can earn badges for all kinds of things, like Road Safety, Healthy Mind, Performing Arts, Environmental Awareness, Voting and STEM. During their time with us, we see the Ladybirds grow in confidence and independence while making new friends and having a lot of fun.”
IGG Chief Commissioner Helen Concannon said: "Irish Girl Guides excels at being relevant and in touch with the needs of each new generation of girls. Thousands of girls have benefited from their involvement as Ladybirds in IGG and have progressed to Brownies (aged 7-10) and Guides (aged 10-14) where they continue to grow in independence, develop essential life-skills and are introduced to the international aspects of the Guiding movement. On behalf of the girls, I thank all the women who have volunteered as Ladybird Leaders over the last 30 years and look forward to the next 30!"
Irish Girl Guides welcomes new members from age five plus and volunteer Leaders from age 18 plus. No previous experience of guiding is necessary.
See www.irishgirlguides.ie for more information.